Mother's Heartbreak

A Story of Addiction & Loss

Category: relationships (page 1 of 6)

Heading To the Sea Searching For Me…..

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Matt.   I watch as what’s left of my pen hits the dirt.   It bounces once and disappears.   God how I wish I could just throw your demons away like that dismantled pen.   Just pitch them out the window of our lives and get back to being you and me.   I still can’t believe how ugly we have become.   I don’t recognize these people.  That son cussing at his mother.   The ugly words flowing from your mouth like venom.   The mother cussing and throwing your stuff to the dirt.  Acting like someone who has lost total control of her emotions.  The mother who has suffered from an addiction that is not hers.  The mother trying so desperately to remember that this ugliness is not her son, but the demons who now possess his brain.

I am broken beyond belief.   I think back to that beautiful day when we had a glimpse of how life used to be.   You and me having lunch.  To outsiders we looked normal.   A mother and her grown son enjoying each others company.    Conversation, smiles and hugs.   The mending of hearts.   The beauty of a love that can only be shared by a mother and her son.   Our dirty little secret kept hidden from the eyes of strangers.   No one would ever guess that I just picked you up from a mental hospital.   No one would believe that this mother and her son have fought for his life.   No one could ever tell that you are that man they keep their kids away from.   This handsome man is an addict.  This man uses pills to get high.   This man becomes ugly when his demons take over.   This man lies, steals and breaks the hearts of all those who love him.   No one would ever guess that I’m the mom who fights to keep him alive.   The mom who beat his dealer on her front lawn.   The mom who steals and hides his  poison.   The mom who spends hours begging for safe places to take her addict son.    No one would believe the reality of our lives.   No one would believe you are the addict and I’m the mother who would go to hell and back to save you.

I pull up in the driveway.   Ray is waiting.  “What took you so long?”  “You were supposed to drop him off and just leave”.   “Did something happen?”   Oh Matt, I just don’t have it in me to tell the true story.   I can’t even begin to tell Ray about the ugliness between you and me.   Once again I put on my mask and pretend.  For now I will keep the ugliness between us.  So I make up a fib.  “I got lost, took a wrong turn, you know me and directions”.   I laugh and then start to sob.   Ray grabs my arms.  “He will be ok.  You did the right thing”.    I don’t even know what the right thing is anymore.   I don’t even know who I am anymore.   I feel so physically and emotionally abused.   Your addiction has wrapped itself around my life.   Smothering my soul with lies and chaos.   Who have we become.   A mother and her son, once the best of friends now turned inside out.   I stand in the shower and allow the sobs to return.   The water washing the ugliness from my body.   My mind reliving our journey disbelieving the reality of who we have become.

Another sleepless night comes and goes.   I’m in such a state of anxiety.  Can’t get out of this funk that enveloped me like a straight jacket.   The all too familiar choking sensation, chest tightening and now unable to get deep breath, I pace like a caged animal.   I have to get away from this house.  The ugly memories of the people your addiction transforms us into being follows me from room to room.   I call Ray.   He knows before the words leave my lips.   “Be safe, I hope you find what you’re looking for”.

I feel my body begin to relax as soon as the sea air enters my windows.  Like a salve on my burning body, my soul starting to feel a lightness that I’ve long forgotten.   The cry of the gulls welcome me back to my peaceful place.  I drive to our spot.  I slip past the dunes to our rock and sit.   The beach is empty.   Just me and memories.   I close my eyes and see my towhead boys jumping into the crashing surf.  “Mommy, mommy don’t let go”.   I hold your hand, you scream in delight as the waves crash around your feet.   Everyday it was you, me and Mike running in the surf.   Laughing and chasing each other into the waves.   You always stayed so close.   “Mommy, mommy stay with me, don’t leave me”.   It never mattered how many friends were with you, it was me you clung to.

Our closeness continued into your adulthood.   I remember how handsome you were in a tux.   “Mom,  what do you think?”   “Do I look ok?”   “Mom,  I met a girl”.   “Mom, I think I’m in love”.   “Mom,  this is Nat.”   Memories  of a life so loved.   Our lives always intertwined,  so full of hope for your future.   Memories of you and Nat moving into the beach house.   I remember how proud you were to be making a home for yourself.   Even as you were becoming independent it was always “Mom, what do you think?”

Looking back brings such pain to my heart.   We were that perfect parent-child.   That perfect unbreakable family that is now so broken.   I walk through the surf as the memories bring tears of regret.   Tears of a mother missing  her son and herself.   I know this mother, this woman is not who I am.   I am the fixer, the one in control.  The one who loves her son, but hates what is happening to their lives.   Your addiction has caused me to lose my control.  To lose myself.   It’s turned me into a person I no longer recognize.   Your addiction has made me into this ugly,  angry, hopeless, mother.   The rollercoaster ride of our life has taken its toll on me.   I feel like your addiction has beaten every fiber of my being into the ground. Every time I have any hope of returning to who we used to be it’s shattered over and over again.   I might as well be the addict.   I’m addicted to your addiction.   I’m suffering like someone going through detox.   My body hurts.  My heart hurts and my mind is being destroyed by the constant agony of what’s coming next.   I try to remember you are possessed by your demons.   The real Matt could never be the man you have become.  My Matt could never lie, steal and break my heart like you have on a daily basis.

I walk by the sea breathing the air.   I can finally get that deep breath.  The spray from the surf makes me feel alive.   The vastness of the ocean restores my faith in God.   My hopelessness is washing out with the receding tide.  I feel the weight lifting off my heart.  In the distance a boy and his dog are running into the water.   I close my eyes and allow myself the fantasy that we are back.   You are that boy and I am the mom keeping you in my sight.   I close my eyes, mommy, mommy stay close.    Yes Matt,   I will stay close.   This time I will remember to save me so I can save you.

Smile, We’re All On Candid Camera

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Matt,  having you home was like living in hell.  I thought I saw all your ugliness spew from you before the accident.  Never realizing how much control your demon’s had over your brain.   I walked on eggshells holding my breath.  Choosing my words carefully.  Trying not to piss off the sleeping dragon.   I stayed home for a week.  I was emotionally battered.  I never remember feeling such joy knowing that in a few days I would be returning to saving the babies.   A touch of normal that I needed so badly.

So here we were stuck in another of you’re addiction dilemma’s.   Was it safe to leave you unsupervised.   You were instructed not to drive, but you never were one to follow instructions.  Especially  when the demons were calling.   You’re cravings were in control and there was no stopping you from leaving the house to find the love’s of your life.   I had no choice.  I had to return to work and to be honest with you, I needed to get away from your ugliness.  I called Mike to give him a head’s up. “Mom, you know he can’t be trusted.”   “Yeah Mike, I know.”  It broke my heart that after this brush with death you still thought you were invincible.  Taking your keys was a joke.  I knew you were sly like a fox and probably had another set hidden somewhere in the house.  Plus, you’re a mechanic.  I’ve heard your stories of hot wiring cars.  That familiar feeling of helplessness grabbed my heart again as we brainstormed on how to once again save you from yourself.

Your addiction was seeping through the fabric of our family.   Turning what should have been a joyous occasion into a problem that would keep us in a constant state of stress.  All the reasoning with you about being given a second chance fell on deaf ears.  You looked at me like I was the enemy, not you’re mom who once again was trying to save you.

Our house became a revolving door.  Who ever was free the day’s I worked would arrive with the pretense of “hanging out with Matt”.   At first you thought it was great.  You thought you could batter your  friends into taking you to get some extra poison.   Believe me I heard how manipulative you were becoming, but your friends were my army, the Queen’s men cutting the head off your plan of self destruction.

I guess I forget just how sly you could be when pushed to the limit.  You played the game to perfection.  I would come home to my daily verbal assaults.  Thinking my plan was working.  Little did I know you had found an old contact and now had a delivery service right to the front door.  Better than UPS or Amazon, you were the biggest shit with the perfect smile.   I knew something was up.  You were just too happy.  Back to the old Matt.   Mom’s intuition.  Ok Matt let’s dance.

The camera’s were installed in every room.  Yup even the bedrooms.  Hidden behind pictures and in plants.  I felt like James Bond.  Little devices that allowed us to watch and hear your every move.  Spying on my son.  Dear God, what I wouldn’t do to save you from yourself.  At first I felt guilty when I snuck upstairs to watch the new reality TV show that’d become my life.   I named it, “Find Matt and Guess What He’s Up To.”   I honestly had no idea what I would see.  I was scared to death.

This took the place of our old game.  You hide, I seek.  With you underfoot all day I just couldn’t picture myself carrying down my ladder and going through the ceiling tiles like the old days.  Shit, that was so much easier than playing I spy.   I soon got over my guilt as I watched your hands explore places I would have bet my life you would never go near.  Soon things began disappearing.  Little things.  Things I never would have missed had I not seen it attached to your hand.

You were right back to that Matt.  Your supply coming right to our door.  Being financed by me, Mike and Ray.  WTH was I going to do.  Stealing to buy your perc’s. My heart broke every time I saw what you were up to.   My Matt once again under the control of the devil.  There’s a saying that “An addict will steal your wallet then help you look for it”.   Well holy shit I was living that life.

I remember the day the shit hit the big ugly addiction fan.  You borrowed a Dremel kit from Mike.   You would spent your days making jewelry or so you said.  I use the word borrowed, but in reality you sold it right out from under him.  “Hey Mom, does Matt have my Dremel set?”   That question was the opening of Pandora’s box. You are both downstairs.  I hear your voices.  Louder and louder.  Brother fighting brother as the addict helps  look for something he can’t even remember selling.   In the midst of the screaming, I hear the doorbell.   A delivery for Matt.

I remember grabbing the guy by his shirt.  Words unknown to mankind fly out of my mouth.   I slap him and push him off the porch.  He was expecting Matt.  I am in such a rage I don’t hear or see anything.  I am punching and kicking and screaming at your buddy.  All the years of pent up rage flying out of my arms and fists.  Beating your demon with everything in my soul.   I am pushed aside.  Your brother shoving me to safety.    Mike is bigger.  Your demon runs dropping his delivery.   I throw myself on the bottle before he can grab his loss.   He is gone.   The pills are mine.

I am shaking, bruised and bleeding.   Mike is trying to calm me as the sobs come.   You appear.  “WTF” are the words we hear.  You’re face says it all.   Your eyes hate me.    You see the bottle.   “WTF did you do?”   I run to the bathroom.   Mike grabs you as I throw your poison away.   Your words cut my heart.   Mike is threatening to punch your face if you don’t shut your mouth.

You and Mike now going at each other.  Like panthers coming in for the kill.  Sizing each other up.   I close my eyes and remember my two little boys.   Loving, happy, the best of friends.   Addiction has changed the fabric of our family.   What started as a small tear has now ripped us wide open.   I try to come between you but I get the look to keep my distance.   This battle is between you and Mike.   I go upstairs.  I throw the camera shattering it into pieces.   Broken pieces like our family.   I see myself in the mirror.  My swollen eyes, bruised  arms.   I grab a towel cover my mouth and scream…….

 

 

 

Surviving The Slippery Slope: Hanging On By A Thread

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Matt.   The wait felt endless.  The four of us sitting together.  The silence is deafening.  I am praying that you will survive.  I hate being a nurse.  My knowledge is killing me.   We wait for hours.  I watch the sun go down from the window and pray this will not be your last day on earth.  I relive every moment.  I hate myself for telling you to leave.  I hate the fighting, the chaos, the destruction your addiction has thrust on our lives.  I want you to be that little towhead boy again.  The one who holds my hand and gives me hugs and kisses.  I want to close my eyes and go back in time.  Where are my ruby red slippers when I need them.

So once again I wait.  I tell everyone to go.  I will stay and call if anything changes.  Ray, Mike and Heather need to get some rest.  Everyone having to work in the morning but me.   Terri brings a pillow and blanket.  I camp out in the ICU waiting room.  My body shaking uncontrollably as I try to settle in for the night.   I curl up in a chair and let the tears come.  How many times will we go through this until you realize your demons are killing you.  Little by little, piece by piece, your body and mind are leaving me.    I try to calm my mind.  I jump with every noise.  Fearing the worst.  I give up on sleep and pace the room.  I talk to God.

The girls in the NICU have heard.  The hospital grapevine.  They come bringing coffee and soup.  They sit and let me sob covering me in their hugs.  They are mother’s and can’t believe this has happened again.   Your surgeon finds me.  You are being moved to the ICU.  No surgery for now.  Heavily drugged, your battered body covered in warm blankets.  I watch you being wheeled behind those doors.  The doors where I know you will get the best of care.  The doors that will separate us for now.  I’m told your nurse will come after you are settled.   Time is standing still.  I need to see you.  To tell you I am here.  To tell you I love you.  To let you know that no matter what I will never give up this fight.  You have taken my world and spun it out of control.  Shattering my peaceful life into a million pieces.   People tell me to walk away to save myself.  You are not worth the pain you put me through.  I remember you before the demons.  My beautiful boy.  My go to guy.  My baby.  I find a strength in my soul I never felt before.  I know that I will stand by you until I can stand no more.

Matt, your recovery is slow and steady.  I become a fixture in the waiting room.  Visiting you for 15 minutes every hour.  I obey the rules, not wanting to cause conflict with your nurses’ or the other anxious waiting parents.  I sit in scrubs or street clothes depending on my purpose for that day.  Back to saving Matt or saving babies.  I spend every free minute waiting to see your face.  To watch your reaction to your pain.  I wonder if you realize how close you came to death.   I wonder if this will be your so called rock bottom or if the pull from your demons will drag you back to the hell that landed you in this ICU.

Mike and Ray are in and out.  Both offering food and coffee.  Both knowing I can barely eat and am going nowhere until you are out of the woods.  When I visit you are quiet.  An IV hanging, giving you monitored doses of your favorite cocktail.  Your breathing is comfortable.  Your body looks like a giant eggplant with a human head sitting on top.  I sit on your bed and hold your hand.  Tears run down my face.  I can’t allow myself to think of what could have happened.  The nightmare that haunts my daily thoughts.  Losing you.  You open your eyes and smile.  I squeeze your hand and kiss your cheek.  “I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck” you say and give me a little laugh.   I allow myself a laugh, a deep breath.  You are back.

The next days are one of laughing, crying and biting my tongue.  You are moved to a step down unit and are expected to get up and move.  Yup, my spoiled boy, this party is over.   Your drugs are being weaned and you are being pushed.  I hear you before I find your room.   Your flirty eyes and sweet smile are getting you nowhere as the nurses are onto you.   I hear their whispers, drug seeker, addict.  I cringe inside when I remember being one of them.  Making judgements about people and their pain without knowing their story.  I remember and feel shame.  I continue our charade of nurse/mother to a man who survived a horrible accident.   I visit with my painted smile as you cuss and threaten when your demons are not delivered at your request.  I remain calm when inside I am dying.  You behave like an addict.  A stranger.  You scream at me and tell me I don’t understand your pain.  I don’t live in your body.  I try to reason with your abuse.   The nurse’s look at me with pity in their eyes.  They feel my pain.

Discharge day arrives.  I brace myself.  Your surgeon is taking over your pain control.  You see Matt, I have another dirty little secret.  Your surgeon and I go way back.  He has my back.  Joined my team to save Matt.  So now the fun begins.   I pick you up at the front door.  You are wheeled out by one of your nurses.  She hugs me and whispers good luck.  You see Matt, nurses have an unspoken bond.  They had my back too.  I was the one calling the shots during your recovery.  I spilled my guts the night I thought you were leaving me.  Your surgeon held me as I cried and together we formed a plan.   Detox during recovery.  I know if you ever find out I am done.    I will once again be the bitch.  The mother fu**** that gets into your business.  The enemy trying to save your life so she can save hers.  I hear your grunt as I hand you the bottle that you love more than life.  I brace myself for the reaction I have come to fear.  Your first words to me “What the F***”, when you see the dose prescribed.   Your eyes bore into my soul.  You turn your back as you say the words I pray you don’t mean.  Matt, how can you hate me when I am the one picking up your pieces.  The one who loves you more than her life.  The one slowly dying inside with you.  Your addiction no longer  belongs to you.  It has become who I am.  I’m disappearing with you.  Your demons are taking me along for the ride.  It’s not all about you.  It’s about a mother who will never give up.  A mother who will kick, scream and claw our way out of your addiction.  A mother who would rather die than see you continue to destroy her precious boy.

The house is silent.  I offer you food.  I try to let you know how blessed we are that you lived.  I wait for a response.  I get nothing.  You are in that world.  You have chosen sides.   The battle begins again.  I pray for strength.  I close my eyes and dream that I am Alice floating down the rabbit hole.  Leaving all this shit behind.   I am slowly losing myself.  Pieces of me are floating away.  I imagine myself disappearing.   Then I hear the laughter.  Your demons.  I become the Queen of Hearts.  My army chopping off their heads…….

A Matt With Nine Lives

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Matt.   So this tender love seemed to be working.  You would stop by to visit Kahlua.  You looked reasonably straight.  We were trying to work on getting back to you and me.  I couldn’t stay mad forever.  I was becoming cautiously optimistic that Ray and I did the right thing.  I was okay knowing you had a roof over your head and food that of course I’d send with you each visit.  You blew my mind during one visit when you thanked me for kicking you out.  I’ll never forget your smile as you said, “Mom,  I’m really glad you kicked me out”.  “It’s about time I figure out how to take care of myself”.  You gave me one of those bear hugs as you left.  I watched you walk to your car with a mixed feeling of joy and sadness.  This was never what I wanted.  I wanted you living at the beach.  I wanted you to be successful.  I wanted our life back.  I wanted you back and I wanted me back.

You shocked me when you came home one day and announced you found a job.  Working at the same auto parts store you did in high school.  You were so proud.   I was so sad.  I smiled and hugged you, all the time thinking how much your demons cost you.  Prior to the pills,  you owned a very successful business.  Living my dream life by the sea.  Now here you were working for minimum wage exactly where you started a million years ago.  I wondered if you actually passed the drug test or if you were able to sweet talk your way back in.   I guess I couldn’t be too picky.  Wanting you to be who you no longer were.  At least you had a place to be and responsibility.  I prayed this was a step in the right direction.  That if you started to feel useful and were surrounded by clean people maybe just maybe normal would find us again.

Matt, I remember the call like it was yesterday.  It was a beautiful summer day.  Ray and I were tag teaming the housework so we could head out to mountain bike.  Ray was happier knowing I was fine with you not living here as long as I controlled where you lived. We were finding a new rhythm, finally having the house to ourselves.  I never realized the enormous chaos you created until it was gone.   I was learning how to focus on something other than saving you.  A little piece of the way life could be.

Ray was vacuuming,  I was in the kitchen.  My cell rang.  Surprisingly, I heard it.  A number I didn’t recognize.  Any other time I would not have answered.  That little voice and a chill had me grabbing my phone.  “Hello”.  I hear a voice asking if I am MaryBeth.  Dear God, do I want to be?  Yes, I can feel my body starting to react.  My soul knew it was you.  “Yes, who is this?”   The next words brought me to my knees and had Ray at my side.  “Oh God,  is he alive,  please tell me the truth”.  You’re a nurse, so am I.  “Please stay with him, tell him I love him, please keep him alive for me”.  “Yes, Christiana, I work there, please tell them to get him to Christiana.”  I’m sobbing trying to talk to you as this nurse holds the phone to your ear.  She tells me you are still breathing but the accident was a head on and you are in very bad shape.  I stay on the phone until I hear the medics arrive.  She again reassures me you are still alive.  I hear the medics muffled words.  Calling ahead to alert the E.D a trauma is coming.  I don’t want to hang up.  I can’t lose our connection.  I want to keep telling you that I love you.  That I will be there.  Please don’t leave me.  Please fight, breathe, stay alive.

We fly to the E.D.  Ray has already called Mike.  Ray pulls up and slows down as I leap out.  I see the ambulance and know you were it’s patient.  A nurse/mother’s instinct.  I run in and am ignored by the unit clerk sitting in triage behind the plexiglass screen on her phone.  I am ready to punch the window to get her attention.  I look up and Terry, a nurse I worked with during my E.D days smiles.  Hey, what are you doing here.  My son is your trauma.  He was just brought in.  She asks for your name.  “Matt”.  Her smile disappears. She walks toward me and wraps an arm around me.  “You need to come with me”, she says.  Ray runs in the door and sees us.  Terry tells him to stay back and wait.  She continues to guide me toward those doors.  Oh God,  “Terry, I can’t do this.  I remember being the nurse and taking parents like you are taking me”.  ” I can’t do this”.  My body is racked with sobs.  I’m shaking so badly I can barely think or walk.   “Mare, you can do this, you must do this”.   She tightens her grip as we walk into the trauma room.  All eyes turn toward me.   “Hey, what are you doing here?”  I’m surrounded by a sea of familiar faces.  “That’s my Matt”.  I walk to the table.  You’re body is broken.  Purple bruising covers your chest.  The doc is scanning your abdomen.  I tell you I’m here and squeeze your hand.  You are alive.  I stifle a sob and try to calm my trembling body.  Terry remains by my side.  I don’t know why but my nurse mode turned on.  I’m looking at the scans asking about your liver and spleen pointing out things I don’t want to see.  I’m asking which Trauma Surgeon is coming.  I’m relieved when one of the best will be arriving shortly.  I’m asking about pain control and my mind is running down the trauma protocol when I hear this young nurse cop an attitude.  “Who does she think she is?”  I’m ready to scream, “I’ll tell you who I am smart ass, snot nosed, don’t know nothing little shit”.   Terry saves me from my tirade.  “Shut up, you have no idea who she is, she was our trauma coordinator,  She was here when you were being potty trained”.   We exchange a glance.  The trauma surgeon takes his place by my side.  He gives me a hug.  “Hey, we got this. You try to be the mom, we will do everything, you know we love you and he is one of our’s.  Go take a break.  I’ll see you soon”.

Terry walks me to that room.  The one we always deliver bad news in.  I tell her I can’t wait there.  Too many memories of families I’ve stayed with.  The mother’s and father’s I held as the news of loss was delivered.  I’m shaking again.  Ray opens the door.  He’s been waiting for me.  I collapse in his arms.  I tell him you are alive and to pray.  The door swings open.  Mike walks in with Heather.  His face says it all.  I tell him you are alive.  He needs to see you.  I call Terry.  Yes, Mike go.  Terry meets him and takes him to see your battered body.   I’m pacing as Mike returns with an officer.  He sits and tells me he was at the scene.  Witnesses say you crossed the center line.  He apologizes as he hands me your ticket.   He tells me how sorry he is.   They have drawn a drug screen.  The results are pending.  He leaves us in silence.  Each one of us lost in our thoughts.  I’m giving thanks that you are alive.  I’m praying you will recover.  The sadness surrounding your family  binds us.  Your addiction is killing us.

What started out as a day of happiness has turned into one of fear.  Once again not knowing where we were headed.  The normal I was starting to feel shattered.  The chaos of your demons never letting up.  I thought I had regained some control of my life.  How foolish to think after all we survived that normal would ever find us again.   Mike goes for coffee.  He needs to cry for his broken brother.  His only sibling.  Matt, your tough as nails brother is sobbing.  I wonder how much more we will survive.  How many more insults your body can take.  I wonder how to fix this.  The door opens again.  Our surgeon.  My heart stops.  He sits.  Your spleen is torn, several vertebra are fractured.  They are keeping you heavily sedated.  Watching closely for changes that will buy you a trip to the O.R.  He hands me a small bag, his eyes full of pity.  Matt our dirty little secret is out.  “He’s an addict”.  Those ugly words flying around the room.  Your demons laughing.  My heart breaking.  They will pump you full of drugs.  They have no choice.   I hear the roller coaster pulling up.  I see myself getting on.  The bar locking firmly in place.  I have no control.  I sob as if the world is ending.  My fantasy over.  The ride will start again………

 

 

Tough Love From A Tender Hearted Mother

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Matt.   You really did it this time.  It takes a lot to upset Ray and he is pissed.   The fact that you were going to let me go to jail and risk my nursing career just about blew his mind.  I keep telling Ray you are sick.  That you need help but your actions and attitude really aren’t helping my case.   I planned to spend this week relaxing in my garden, but now I have to put the fires caused by your addiction out and try to keep this family together.

I’m in the kitchen drinking coffee staring out the window.  I’m so lost in my thoughts that I don’t realize you are up.  I can’t even bring myself to look at your face.  I’m still having a hard time believing that after all we have been through together and everything I’ve done to help keep you safe that you would throw me to the wolves.  I’ve read about  tough love.  How parent’s throw their addicts out.  Turn their backs.  No home, no food, having nothing to do with their once loved kids.   I’ve read that the only way to save an addict is to let them hit rock bottom.   The problem with tough love is I’m not tough.  I loved you and all I cared about was getting you straight and keeping you that way.   I knew my back was against the wall.  I never though Ray would say those words.  I just didn’t know if I was strong enough to kick you out and your rock bottom scared me to death.

You brush past me without a word.  My heart is breaking.  Where are you? What happened to my funny, loving son?  Who is this stranger living in your skin?  My mind asking questions as my lips remain silent.  I’m trying not to cry.  I’m so emotionally beat up.  All I want is my son and my life to be normal.  I’ve forgotten what those days were like.  The days before the demons became your love.  When life was full of joy, before the chaos and drama starting chipping away at our lives.  I wanted it all back.  I wanted to grab you and shake you and rid your body of the poison slowly killing us all.

“Hey Matt, we need to talk”.   I wait for your response.  Nothing.  You are ignoring me.  Your demons have control.  I say it again, “Matt, we need to talk”.  You look at me with glassy eyes.  My heart sinks.  “Matt, this has to stop”.  “You need to get into a rehab or find another place to live”.   There, I’ve said it.  Those words I never thought I’d say.   Out of my mouth and floating between us like poison gas.  I hold my breath and wait for your reaction.  You look at me and smile.  “You can’t throw me out,  you have to evict me”.   “I looked it up”.   You continue to gloat as you make a cup of coffee and float downstairs.   I’m sitting there in shock.  I grab my laptop and google eviction.  I’ll be damn, you were right.  Holy shit.  How can this be.  I own this house.  You’ve never paid a dime to live here.  Just do your drugs and eat the food.  This is crazy.  Now I have to pay court costs to get you to leave.  My brain is reeling while my heart is relieved.  The perfect excuse.  No tough love.  I can’t be blamed by anyone.  For me it’s a win/win situation.  I did what Ray wanted.  Told you to leave.

Ray comes home expecting you to be gone.  I decide to play my I don’t know what you’re talking about game.  To slip into my pretend world.  I pretend we are just like any other family.  We had a misunderstanding and need to work it out.  Ray starts to question me.  I tell him we talked.  I share the information about kicking someone out that has lived at the residence for years.  I tell him this is your home.  You hear him come in and stupidly decide to come and challenge him.  Oh God, I’m looking at you willing you to shut your mouth.  My eyes pleading for your silence.  This is not the time to be cocky.   I feel the anger building.  You are high and mighty, untouchable.  Your words are ugly.  “F*** you, you can’t make me leave.  I live here”.   I hear the words and start to slowly die inside.  You are out of control and Ray is done.  I’ve never seen Ray so angry.  He pushes past you,  grabs a backpack filled with your stuff.  “Get the hell out”.  He is screaming, you are screaming and I am disappearing.   I watch in horror, tears flowing as Ray grabs you and throws you out the door.  Oh God,  I can’t do this.  You are my baby.  I have to save you.  I grab Ray and his eyes tell me to back off.   This is between you and him.  I’m sobbing and pleading for us to calm down and take a breath.  These ugly people are not who we are. Dear God, you look at me hate spewing from your eyes.  Ray slams the door and pushes past me.  I hold myself,  sobbing as you get into your truck, give me the finger and leave.

I continue looking out the window tears streaming down my face.  My mind is reeling.  How do you choose between two men you love.  One is your child.  You’ve loved him from the first moment the stick turned positive.  Dreamed of his life.  What he would look like and who he would be.  Never once did I think my beautiful boy would turn into a man capable of such turmoil.  Never did I dream that my son would grow up to be an addict.   Ray comes to me.  I cannot speak.  Just shake with the sobs racking my body.   He sits and tells me he’s sorry.  He’s trying to do the right thing.  He’s trying to save me.  “You can’t see what he is doing to you”.  “You are consumed by his addiction”.   “You aren’t tough enough, you still see the little boy,  not the grown man who is slowly killing you”.   “Let’s see what happens, Maybe this will open his eyes”.   I still can’t respond.  I need every ounce of energy to breathe.  I know Ray is trying.  I know he’s supported every decision.   Put up with Matt’s chaos and always tried to help.  Right now none of that matters.  My heart is broken.  I feel dirty and hateful.  I know I will not survive.

The first night I am once again on the couch.  Me and the pups.  A bottle of red and bones.  I try to call you.  I need to know you are alive.  Need to hear your voice.  To tell you I’m sorry and thinking of you.  And once again, your voicemail is all I get.  Hopelessness wraps me up.  In all the years of our struggle I never felt so defeated.

I am a mess.  I haven’t slept in weeks.  Laying there night after night wondering where you are.  If you’re still alive.  What have I done.  I hate myself.  I call Mike.  Ask him if he’s heard from you.  Nothing.  He’s trying to be strong, but I know he is thinking the same thing.  He will drive around and look for you.   I try to stay busy.  I check my phone constantly.  Every call sets my heart racing.   I go through your stuff.  Same old game. Searching for poison.  Hoping you have left some behind.  A reason to contact me.  Nothing.  Your demons have full control.  I sit and smell your clothes and cry.  “Mom,  Matt slept in his car last night”.   “At least he’s alive”.  “Ok Mike,  I’m going to make some calls.  Let’s put him in a motel until I can find a place”.    So Mike and I team up to find you a place to put your head.  I keep thinking about this tough love bullshit.  Well, I just can’t do.  Let them say what they want.  I don’t give a damn.  Everyone telling me to throw you out has never lived my life.   How do you handle not knowing where you’re son is.  Yes, he’s an addict.  He’s done terrible things.  He’s still my son.   All the tough hearted parents writing the advice books, well good for them I think.  Good for them.  They’re not Matt’s mom.  They haven’t watched his struggle.  They haven’t seen the glimpses of my Matt that sneak out and touch my heart.

Weeks go by.  You are now staying with a friend.  Of course I am paying rent to keep you safe.  I can finally sleep knowing you are not on the streets, cold and hungry.   People have told me I did it all wrong.  Just enabling from afar.  I say addiction is not a black and white disease.  What works for one addict doesn’t work for another.  Tough love is not all it’s cracked up to be.  It was tougher on me than you.  But you already knew that.  You played the game.  Acting hurt and hateful, killing me with your eyes as you left.   Knowing my heart was putty in your hands.   Knowing I loved you too much to be tough.  Knowing I would find a way to keep you safe.  My sweet boy knew he was loved too much by a mother who was too soft for tough love…..

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